Friday, December 3, 2010

Ruminating on Food and Wine

In the absence of Tricia today (she's been swamped with obligations at home and the winery this week; end-of-month bulk-inventory reports are surprisingly complicated), a wanted to add to some of the ideas that Peter brought up on Wednesday.  Bringing up food, wine, and especially the pairing thereof is always a way to get us talking and brainstorming.  With that in mind, here are a few interesting guidelines to wine and food pairings we've discovered at a Fox Run Tasting or on our own:

  • Port with Savory Foods.  Unless I am mistaken, we haven't taken the opportunity to really write about our port program here at Fox Run and the deep pride and enjoyment we take in crafting this fortified wine.  For better and for worse, many people instantly associate port with chocolate, desserts, blue cheese, and cigars.  With the exception of the last item in that list, I can certainly vouch that port has a unique place in pairing with each of those items.  Yet whether you're drinking the more jam-like Ruby Port style (younger and bottle aged) or the brown sugar and caramel Tawny Port style (aged in neutral oak for many years), don't overlook these wines when it comes to non-sweet foods!  Never will you want a big heaping glass of a wine this intense, but it can pair beautifully with hearty, earthy, or rich meats and stews.
  • Riesling with Pork.  Riesling is one of the best wines to pair with food out there; it's like the Mickey Mantle of the wine world.  To wit, we've been very excited to read about the ever-increasing number of restaurants in New York City and elsewhere catching onto this fact and propelling riesling forward.  You can pair it with non-cream based seafood preparations and watch the wine and food build each other up, or with roast poultry and enjoy its refreshing aspects.  As a foolproof pairing, however, I can think of few pork dishes that would not be fantastic with Riesling.  Maybe I am just a sucker for the historical linkage of riesling and hearty pork dishes with Germany; but everything from pork roast to grilled pork chops to pulled pork and BBQ (seriously!) seems to only get better when Riesling is matched with it.  The only question you need to settle is whether you want a dry, semi-dry, or semi-sweet style to meld or contrast the natural richness of the pork.
  • Barrel Aged (Reserve) Chardonnay with Seafood.  Especially if the preparation of the seafood involves cream or butter.  Peter pointed out one instance where this pairing did not work out for us, but the fact it was worth singling out also underscores what a spectacular (and easy) pairing this normally is.  One of the most memorable wine pairings I've ever had at home involved making up some lobster ravioli (from Rochester's fantastic Ravioli Shop) in a simple butter sauce and then opening up our Reserve Chardonnay.  It was only supposed to be an easy, yet festive, meal on Christmas Eve as we were rushing around - but the pairing with that wine turned simple into transcendent.  Butter richness, lemon curd, vanilla, and a whole host of other wonderful aromas and flavors came out to complement the food and vice-versa.

This is a huge subject to tackle, and hopefully we will return to it  again if anyone is interested in more general guidelines for Finger Lakes Wines.  Just remember that there is always an element of surprise to having food and wine together; the point is to have fun.  And if you are pairing your food with a wine from the Finger Lakes, you can be assured that you have a great chance of it pairing nicely.  The style of red and white wine we make around these Lakes is some of the most food-friendly and refreshing that exists, and it is right in your backyard!

By: Kelby Russell, Winemaking Staff

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